It is hard to imagine that a contract worth over $100 million is considered team friendly and, even in a certain context, “unselfish.” But that is the case when you consider the extension Evan Longoria recently signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, effectively making himself a one franchise player for his career. As they say, it’s all relative.
In terms of PR, players like Longoria and Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki capitalize on the greediness of other MLB stars. If, like other players such as Albert Pujols, either of them had waited to hit free agency, they might have had a chance to snag a deal worth close to $200 million.
I think this is an important thing to remember in the midst of the recent griping about Tulo and whether or not he is truly a franchise player. The murmurs of message boards and local talk radio are asking if he is worth the money because of his injury problems and even some claims that he is not living up to his contract when healthy. That uneasiness makes this a good time to remember how lucky we are to have Tulowitzki locked up under his current deal.
As far as the market goes, both Tulowitzki and Longoria signed for much less money than they could have gotten. As the Denver Post’s Troy Renck notes:
Like Longoria and the Rays, Tulowitzki loves the Rockies and takes pride in being the face of the franchise. Nobody is going to mistake the fact that he cashed in for big money, but he could have held out longer, expressed a desire to “test the market” in free agency, cashed in to the max, and made life very difficult for the Rockies (probably by making it impossible for them to keep him). Acknowledging the disappointment of the last couple seasons, we should remember that this guy has been voted the best position player in baseball, plays good defense at a premium position, and hits for power. Every single team would likely take that type of unique talent in a heartbeat, and be many would be willing to pay a bunch more money for it.
Can you imagine all the painful rumors, reports from “sources,” tweets, insider reports about “mystery teams,” and everything else that would come with a hypothetical situation where teams were courting Tulo for his services? He could have eventually had all of that, and instead he chose to make himself the face of the Rockies and just focus on baseball. Shortly after he made that decision, he urged his buddy Longoria to do the same. In this climate, that’s a pretty cool thing.
We can still hold Tulo to the highest standard and be critical of him when he deserves it, but let’s take a moment here to recognize how lucky we are to have him and the way he approached his contract situation.